Kids nowadays are into video games especially those that can be played with their friends virtually. Though some opt for gaming consoles or offline gaming, more and more kids are getting hooked to online gaming and live streaming.
However, digital gaming has its fair share of disadvantages, including sleep deprivation and eye strain. Along with online gaming, access to the internet adds several other online risks as well. To help you protect your children from these risks, we discuss them below and the gaming safety measures you can take.
The Risks Your Kids Are Exposed To
If you think that kids who play video games online are safer than those who hang out outdoors, you might want to think again. The sad reality is that in this modern age, kids’ online safety cannot be guaranteed. Below are some risks gaming exposes your child to.
Gaming platforms usually require downloads to function properly – licenses, codes, programs, settings, updates, etc. Downloading, however, is also one of the most commonly used methods by hackers to infect a device or a system. Once the malware penetrates the target network, hackers can easily access confidential data such as credit card and personal information.
In general, only download gaming-related content from legitimate sources. Never download games you just saw through an online advertisement or unsolicited text or email.
Not all games that are played online are wholesome. You cannot guarantee that your kids’ game experience will be safe, with several online games containing adult content and violent language. Despite age ratings and restrictions, kids could easily gain access to video games, gaming platforms, or gaming live streams that are inappropriate.
Another playing risk associated with online gaming is kids not knowing who they are really playing with online. They could be on a team with a 50-year-old man who lives across the country, or even scarier, a sexual predator.
Aside from playing or personally participating in, online gaming is now commonly being streamed. Even if they are just watching others’ streams on platforms like Twitch and YouTube, your kids aren’t 100% safe online. Streams aren’t always closely monitored or policed, so they could contain inappropriate content or language for kids.
The Safety Measures You Can Take
The good thing is that there are certain precautionary measures that you, as parents or guardians, can take to protect your children from the aforementioned risks of online gaming.
Utilize Built-in Parental Controls
Most gaming platforms and consoles are programmed with parental controls to ensure gaming safety for kids. These built-in settings provide several safety measures, including web filters, screen time limits, chat filters, and content restrictions. You could also choose which games your kids can play and/or which streams your kids can watch. Moreover, you can block in-app purchases.
Be sure that you fully utilize these inclusive parental controls. Below are the platforms and consoles that kids commonly use which have reliable built-in safety controls.
- Nintendo Switch Parental Controls
- Playstation 4 Parental Controls
- Twitch Parental Controls
- Xbox Parental Controls
Install Third-Party Monitoring and/or Security Software
For tighter security, you could also avail of third-party monitoring and/or security software on top of the built-in parental controls that gaming platforms offer. Monitoring programs, per se, are great tools in tracking activities on gaming devices such as cell phones.
Additionally, antivirus software can help your kids stay safe while enjoying or streaming their favorite games. Protecting them from hacking methods such as viruses and trojan horses.
Constantly Update Games, Consoles, and Devices
Games and gaming consoles require regular updates and upgrades to maintain optimal functionality. These updates are often designed to patch vulnerabilities, bugs, and security loopholes, making these crucial in ensuring that your child has a safe gaming experience.
If possible, it’s best to enable the auto-update option so that you won’t miss any updates. This may be a basic step, but it will surely be a great help.
Educate and Guide Them
Above all, it’s important that you properly educate your kids on gaming threats and safety. You have to provide them a strong foundation of facts regarding the virtual world – the pros and cons, the dos and don’ts, the advantages and disadvantages.
Also, being the adults of your homes, set some rules and boundaries. Regulate the amount of time they spend online and manage their games, consoles, and habits. If possible, play games with them so that you have a deeper understanding of why they like gaming so much.
There’s nothing wrong with kids wanting to play games. In fact, video games can help enhance one’s mental prowess. Like all other things, however, it’s for everyone’s best interest if gaming is moderated.